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Debates in the Digital Humanities$
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Matthew K. Gold

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780816677948

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816677948.001.0001

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Digital Humanities and the “Ugly Stepchildren”of American Higher Education

Digital Humanities and the “Ugly Stepchildren”of American Higher Education

(p.335) Chapter 19 Digital Humanities and the “Ugly Stepchildren”of American Higher Education
Debates in the Digital Humanities

Luke Waltzer

University of Minnesota Press

The humanities in American public higher education have suffered recurrent crises over the past three decades, brought on by budget constraints. These include increased class sizes, elimination of departments and programs, and abandonment of searches for open faculty positions. In contrast, the subfield of digital humanities appears to be on the rise, as evidenced by the increasing number of job openings, intensifying discourse, and the creation of an Office of the Digital Humanities (ODH) at the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in 2008. This chapter considers the tensions that arise when the upward trajectory of the digital humanities meets the tenuous place of the humanities in American higher education. It argues that although it should not be up to the digital humanities or any one field to “fix” the problems in American higher education, the digital humanities can—and, indeed, is uniquely positioned to—invigorate arguments about why the humanities matters, how it relates to our progress as a society, and why universities must protect and promote it vigorously in the face of increased pressure to quantify its relevance.

Keywords:   digital humanities, public education, higher education

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